What is a Copyright?

          Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.
          The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.
          Additional information is available in a brochure called “Copyright Basics.
          The concept that the work of art is different from the copyright was used by ILG in consultation with a divorce attorney to resolve a dispute between divorcing spouses over a painting, purchased some years before the 1976 Act. Both wanted the painting that was purchased by them during the marriage, but cutting it in two was obviously not a solution. ILG advised to separate the tangible painting from the intangible copyrights, one getting the ownership of the painting, the other getting the copyrights, including the right of reproduction, public display, etc. We understand their divorce counsel adopted that solution.


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